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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Space Wolves Codex Review: Part 5 - Elites Part 1


Space Wolves Elites have only one carry over unit from the Space Marine codex - the Dreadnought and it's Venerable form. Otherwise everything in here is unique to Space Wolves but you'll rarely see lists chosen based on what's in here (other than Loganwing which moves Wolf Guard to Troops). Let's look at what's available then.

Dreadnought & Venerable Dreadnought -

We'll start with the most basic unit here as everyone should be pretty familiar with these walking half-dead Space Marine (or Space Wolves in this case) heroes. In case you're not, here's VT2's review of them which carries over to Space Wolves relatively well. Dreadnoughts are a cheap platform which can carry one-two heavy weapons and if it carries only a single heavy weapon, it comes with a S10 fist of doom. Not bad for just over 100 points and a myriad of heavy weapon options.

Although they are the exact same (if not better with options like Wolf Tooth Necklace, Wolf Tail Talisman and Saga of Majesty on the Venerable) as Space Marine Dreadnoughts, Space Wolves Dreadnoughts see less use. Why? There are quite a few reasons for this but you can never really pinpoint the exact reason why. Space Wolves are capable of bringing more heavy weapons at a more efficient price than their Space Marine counter-parts due to Long Fangs and the associated Razorback transports they come with. Space Wolves have more access to S10 close combat attacks with Thunderwolves and finally, Space Wolves also have more important roles which can be fulfilled by their Elite slots such as Wolf Guard providing Ld9 to Grey Hunters, disruption from Wolf Scouts, the hardiness of Lone Wolves, etc.

Ultimately the Space Wolves basic Dreadnought is just as good as the regular Space Marine Dreadnought and taking one isn't a bad choice. MM/DCCW or two twin-linked autocannons are both nice choices - hell even the plasma cannon is a good choice and this is probably the best platform for it (no gets hot!). However, the opportunity cost ends up being higher for Space Wolves so whilst they are good choices, it's often what you lose that you really need to consider when putting Dreadnoughts into your Space Wolves army. For everything else, refer to VT2's review.

A quick mention of the Venerable Dreadnought though. Whilst generally not worth it due to a very steep price increase, Space Wolves Venerable Dreadnoughts can take Saga of Majesty for 15 points. For an army with issues in the Leadership department this is a nice way of bringing some reliability to the table. However, there are other ways to improve the leadership of this army (i.e. Wolf Guard) or units who are downright better with this Saga choice (i.e. Logan, Njal) but if you really want a Venerable Dread, grab this Saga on him to make sure he buffs you army as well.

Wolf Scouts -

These boys are perhaps one of the most defining features of the Space Wolves codex and many army lists. Rather than having their Scouts in Troops like most Marine chapters, Space Wolves have theirs in Elites. Whilst they have 'normal' Marine stats in terms of offensive abilities, their saves are still a 4+ but they come with all the Scout goodies as well. Move through cover, Scout, Infiltrate and the best one of them all - Behind Enemy Lines. If you're taking Scouts for a reason beyond this, stop and reconsider.

Behind Enemy Lines allows Scouts to reliably come in on the opponent's table edge. With their decent combat ability and ability to carry melta-weapons, meltabombs and powerfists  - this makes them a great danger to many backfield units and tanks.

There are several traps with this unit however. Whilst it does come on in the opponent's backfield pretty reliably, 33% of the time it's coming in on the short table edges and you also have to roll for reserves. What makes it such a nice disruption unit it its based price. 85 points gets you five models and a meltagun whilst an extra 25 points gets you meltabombs. Other than a Wolf Guard to provide you with an extra melta-shot and perhaps some power fist/power weapon attacks, most of the other upgrades aren't worth it as the unit gets more expensive. Adding bodies doesn't allow for more special weapons and you cannot combat squad so big squads only really make them better at taking out backfield units (and five Scouts + Wolf Guard is generally enough). Plasma pistols are always bad at 15 points and the Mark of the Wulfen and Power Weapon are iffy choices and generally better buys on the Wolf Guard.

This keeps the unit cheap and if it doesn't come in where or when you want it, it's not a big loss. If you start paying 150+ points for the unit though... Due to this, most players run two of such units as it reduces the chances of both squads not coming in where you want to one in nine or roughly once every two tournaments. Not bad odds there but you are now paying an increased cost so just running one unit can still do the job of disruption without dumping in a ton of points.

Other than this use, Wolf Scouts aren't that great. Against opponents where coming in on their board edge isn't going to do they can screen your scoring Grey Hunters or other important units but aren't going to make a good objective/sniper bunker like Space Marine Scouts. This is due to two reasons. Firstly, they aren't scoring and secondly, they don't have stealth both of which Space Marine Scouts do have and which makes them viable. If you don't want the Wolf Scouts for disruption purposes or feel Land Speeders do this better, the unit is best left at home.

Edit in: I forgot Wolf Guard Battle Leaders and Wolf Priests! woopsie. Normally an IC cannot join the Wolf Scouts on their mission behind enemy lines - they're big and clunky after-all. Saga of the Hunter however, allows said IC to join the Wolf Scouts in their adventure! This brings one thing really to the Wolf Scouts - a heavy hitter. The Wolf Priest is often an expensive option here as you're not gaining the full benefit from his Preferred Enemy buff with such a small squad but is still bringing WS5 power weapon attacks to the backfield and the option for another combi-melta. The Wolf Guard Battle Leader however is cheaper and gets more attacks but without the preferred enemy buff. Both of these options are an expensive way to make the Wolf Scouts carve through backfields and it's generally a better idea to simply run a Wolf Guard attachment instead to keep the points down. Rather, use the Saga of the Hunter ability to provide a main-line unit Stealth and sit them in cover providing firepower as the army advances.

Lone Wolves - 

Lone Wolves are another unique unit to Space Wolves and bring a very tough single model to the table. With a Marine statline backed up by W2/FNP/Eternal Warrior for the base cost of 20 points...well you wish they were in squads! Lone Wolves also come with nearly any Space Wolves upgrade you could want in terms of weapons and wargear - but other than your usual bolt pistol/storm bolter/boltgun, it's all combat oriented. Not a bad thing as Lone Wolves have A2/WS5 but it would have been really nice to run around with a W2/FNP/Eternal Warrior Cyclone Missile Launcher...

Regardless, Lone Wolves are beat sticks. For their price and statline, they can take a beating and whilst they are limited by their A2, they are WS5 and due to their durability, are likely to survive to hand out attacks. Chuck in some Terminator armor and a Storm Shield and you have some amazing durability. This generally means their best option is a weapon with a lot of punch such as a power fist, thunder hammer or chain fist. Chain fists are generally the go-to option here as it gives the Lone Wolf ability to punch armor and big scary targets. They aren't going to clear out infantry quickly in any build though they can attrition them down. They can deal with smaller units like MSU Marines just fine but otherwise the weight of attacks can drag them down. This means they can run solo (though are prone to being bogged down) or as support for you usual assortment of units such as Grey Hunters and TWC.

All in all an 85 point model with 2W/FNP/Eternal Warrior and three WS5 S8 attacks on the charge is pretty decent. You can grab a pair of Puppy wounds for 10 points each to ensure stray anti-infantry shots don't drop a wound or kill him before he gets to the enemy lines but he will be a concern for your opponent and something heavy anti-tank will be needed against to take down. Furthermore, Lone Wolves have what is essentially the Saga of Beastslayer in that they re-roll hits against Walkers, T5+ and Monstrous Creatures. This makes him even better at taking out the tougher targets the chainfist/powerfist/thunderhammer are generally geared towards taking out.

There is a downside however - kind of expected with a base cost of 20... Lone Wolves are reverse Kill Points in that if they don't die, your opponent gets a Kill Point but if they do die, they don't gain the Kill Point they normally would. With their slow speed the opponent will often try to marginalise the effect Lone Wolves will have on the game by avoiding them and thus gaining a free Kill Point. That being said, if the Lone Wolves do make it to combat in these situations, they'll do so on full wounds and be very hard to remove without some heavy hitting from your opponent.

Iron Priest - 

The Iron Priest is the Techmarine of Space Wolves so comes with the usual assortment of gear expected from such. 2+ armor, expensive base cost with W1, servo-arm and the ability to repair vehicles. The Iron Priest also comes with the ability to purchase thralls (aka servitors), cyberwolves (T5 fenrisian wolves), a speed upgrade (Space Marine Bike or Thunderwolf Mount) and the usual assortment of Wolfy upgrades in the Wolftooth Necklace, Wolf Tail Talisman and Saga of the Iron Wolf. Saga of the Iron Wolf is a good upgrade if you're planning of using the Iron Priest as a repair node. Along with three thralls this makes the repair happen automatically. If you can get multiple vehicles into base contact with the Priest...well that's a very nice bonus to have but pricey at 95 points (and only one Priest can have the Saga).

The Thralls as usual can take heavy weapon upgrades but at BS3 and with more reliable anti-tank options elsewhere in the army, best leave these guys to help the Iron Priest repair stuff or just not take them at all. Neither of these options are that great - repairing vehicles is cute, even auto-repairing, but getting into base to base contact with multiple vehicles isn't always easy (especially if you're repairing immobilised results) and not really worth spending the points on. Get more vehicles instead.

However, the Wolfy part of the Iron Priest makes for a much better option. The Iron Priest doesn't come with any weapon upgrades but comes standard with a Thunder Hammer. This becomes S10 with a Thunderwolf mount and since the Cyberwolves are T5...we can have a T5 unit and a Thunderwolf with Thunderhammer has just gotten four ablative wounds. Add in a Wolf Tooth Necklace to overcome the WS4 of the Iron Priest and you have a mini-Thunderwolf unit. This is great to run alongside other Thunderwolf units and more an increased durability per point with the cheaper Cyberwolves but should really only see use in lists with full Fast Attack slots. If you're taking all Land Speeders for example, an Iron Priest or two can give you a beast unit with S10 combat attacks, nothing to sneer at. If you're not maxing your Fast Attack though and looking for Thunderwolf models, the actual unit itself is generally a better bet as you get more options and increased killing ability.


We'll look at Wolf Guard next as they really need a whole post on their own but each Elite option is pretty viable within the context of the Space Wolves codex. Some units fit the bill a bit better in relation to what is available in the rest of the Force Organisation Chart but each unit has their effective uses and options within the Space Wolves army.

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